Thursday, November 22, 2007

OpSmile Mission - Day 9 - FINAL DAY

I couldn't believe that we were up to our final day so quickly! Friday was meant to be a shorter day, with only 20-some surgeries scheduled. The surgeries were finished by about 2:00 and a small group of decided to visit the 'souk' in the old Medina to do some last-minute shopping. This was a much grittier shopping venue than the one we had visited in Chefchaouen. A local gentleman kind of latched on to us to be our "guide," which annoyed me a little at first, but later I was glad he was there to lead us through the maze of the Medina. He also showed us all the different sections of the souk...different crafts or types of shops were definitely all grouped together. For instance, there was a woodworking area of the souk, or a leather goods section. He made sure that we didn't miss anything.
Not quite picturesque scene as in Chefchaouen!

He of course also led us into some particular shops which I'm sure pay him to bring tourists through. That was OK, though, as they were interesting shops. One was a rug shop, in which I bought two rugs and a blanket. I think I bargained for a fairly good price, but who knows!
Paul and Nuria in the rug shop.

The other shop he took us to was a spice and oils shop. That turned out to be quite the experience! The owner of the shop showed us many different spices and aromatherapy minerals, then brought out a bottle of massage oil. He said it was great for backaches, to which I laughed and said I needed that. So he tells me to come with him to a corner of the store where they had a makeshift massage bench. I was a bit leery, but I followed him. Next thing I know, some guy pops out of the back of the store, tells me to take off my jacket and lay on the bench. Again, I was a little unsure of what was going on, but I complied. Once I'm laying down on my stomach, this guy lifts up the back of my shirt, unhooks my bra (a little shocking!), and starts giving me a full massage! It might have been very relaxing if it weren't in the middle of the store with my shopping comrades watching and laughing! I thought it would only be a couple minutes, but I think it lasted for a full quarter of an hour. And I have to admit it did feel good, once I got over the shock of what was happening! I felt compelled after that to buy the massage oil. We'll have to see if Rob can match the massage skills of the mystery man in the souk!
Me and my masseuse!

Friday evening was the final team party, hosted at the house of one of the hospital administrators. That turned out to be very fascinating, as it was a traditional Muslim party in that the men and women were segregated in two different rooms. Of course, we didn't realize this at first, so when we got there Paul and I grabbed a beer and sat down to watch a soccer game with some of the men. After a few minutes we started to realize I was the only woman in the room. I looked across the hall and saw that all the women were in the other room! So I meekly slid out of the men's room and into the women's room. Just to add to my faux pas, apparently Muslim women don't drink alcohol. There I sit with my beer, feeling rather conspicuous. Nobody seemed to mind, however, and in fact they brought in a few more beers later for the other American women (I was the only one to actually partake, however!).

The "men's room"

The "women's room"

Paul and I occasionally met in the hall and whispered, "Seriously, is it going to be like this all night?" Occasionally men would wander into the women's room, but they were told in no uncertain terms to get out! Eventually they even shut the doors and posted one of the servers at the door to keep the men out. The women's room was definitely the 'party' room! There was much singing and dancing. One thing I learned on this trip is that Moroccans love to sing and dance! And they all seem to have such lovely voices...I'm jealous!
The last supper!

Anyway, eventually they let the men in when it was time for dinner. We had quite a feast of traditional Moroccan food, then it was time for the speeches. Most everyone spoke in French or Arabic, so it kind of dragged on for those of us who didn't understand, but it was great to have that final chance to say goodbye. We didn't get back to the hotel until 1:30 AM, which meant no time to sleep whatsoever...we still needed to pack and be ready for the bus that was coming to pick us up at 3:00AM to take us to the airport!

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